WWA Show Attendees Discover That Big Success Lies in the Details  - #wwashow

Overland Park, KS, October 30, 2015 —Under the blue skies of Palm Springs, California, WWA attendees from 5 continents came together to enjoy meaningful and inspiring learning, networking and shopping time during the WWA Symposium & Trade Show, Oct. 20-23. The 35th anniversary event welcomed more than 1,400 owners, operators, developers, suppliers and designers, who were eager to discover new ideas and products and reveal fresh details on how to make 2016 an even bigger success.

“From our invigorating education program to the re-launched Women of Water Breakfast event to the exhibit hall filled with product innovations, Palm Springs was an intimate host venue that really delivered for our attendees,” said WWA President Rick Root.

“The World Waterpark Association’s 2015 Symposium & Trade Show was one of the best ever. The number of quality attendees, presenters and vendors made the entire experience more educational and meaningful than ever,” said Joann Cortéz, Hyland Hills Water World.

Attendees travelled to Southern California from parks large and small, public and private, indoor and outdoor, from all over the world. Active leisure markets were represented from 30 countries, including: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Qatar, Spain, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

“We were pleased to have such strong international attendance and to be in a venue that provides so many opportunities to connect with other operators,” said Root. “We always expect some retraction in attendance following a Vegas year, but from the feedback we’ve received, our 35th show was another home run.” 

“WWA seems to broaden its membership base each year and this year was no exception. I truly enjoy the intimacy of the show, as you really had a venue in which you can communicate on an enhanced personal level,” said Pete Downs, Shade Creations by Waterloo Tent. “We enhanced existing relationships and created new ones, a worthwhile investment.”

This year’s intimate host venue in Palm Springs allowed attendees to spend time together on a level that is hard to replicate in larger venues like Vegas. “In Palm Springs, people were surrounded by their fellow waterpark professionals virtually everywhere they went,” said Aleatha Ezra, Director of Park Member Development, World Waterpark Association. “Not only were spirited conversations taking place in classrooms and in booths, but they were happening in hallways, on elevators and around lunch tables. Plus, our attendees interacted with WWA’s social media feeds in a major way with close to 10,000 impressions generated just during the week of the show!" 

“I have been in the business for almost 40 years and I continue to learn from the experts that are willing to give of their time at the conference,” said Pete Fingerhut, Zoombezi Bay & Columbus Zoo.

Standing-Room-Only During WWA’s Education Program

The WWA Show is well known for the breadth and depth of its educational events and this year’s program continued the tradition of providing attendees with access to the best speakers sharing their most successful ideas on the things that matter most: guest safety, operational excellence, quality customer service, top-line employee training and much more. Throughout the show, many rooms were filled to capacity with attendees ready to hear fresh ideas.

“The Palm Springs show provided an unrivaled opportunity for learning what is cutting edge in the waterpark industry while also providing networking opportunities with other professionals!” said Nicole Van Winkle, Counsilman-Hunsaker. “The educational sessions were informative, engaging and interactive and carefully crafted to support all learning styles and levels of professionals.” 

Highlights from this year’s program include: the new WWA University: In-Park Revenue School and the Developing and Enhancing Your Marketing Plan workshop, as well as updated content for the WWA University: Waterpark Maintenance School, among others. Attendees also had the option to select from dozens of breakout sessions on timely topics such as EMS updates, impacting the next CMAHC through voting, using social media more effectively, ensuring lifeguard vigilance, hiring, training and retaining right-fit employees and motivating staff.
“The WWA Symposium and Trade Show has become an indispensable part of our business at Hurricane Alley,” said Jim Kunau, Hurricane Alley Waterpark. “I am getting 5 to 10 times my investment by coming and hearing new revenue ideas, although I believe that many of the sessions provide safety, training, and maintenance tips that don’t get measured on the spreadsheet.”  

Best speaker awards went to:
  • Natalie Livingston, The Wave Waterpark
  • Mike Donnelly, Donnelly Effect, LLC
  • Michael Oostman, Innovative Attraction Management, LLC

Expert Keynotes Shared Ways Attendees Could Improve Themselves & Their Teams

In addition to the wide variety of breakout sessions and workshops, this year’s WWA show offered two inspiring keynote addresses; the first explored the shift from focusing on time management to YOU management and the second explored training and coaching work ethic in employees.

First up was Colette Carlson, a human behavior expert, author and humorous speaker who shares the tools, terminology and techniques that encourage people to excel. Carlson discussed the negative role that stress plays in the lives of all working professionals despite their best intentions. “Black or white, all or nothing thinking stops us from embracing healthy strategies to reduce our stress. Instead, Go for the Gray!  Just ten minutes of brisk walking produces feel-good chemicals, drops your blood pressure and resets your mindset,” said Carlson. She also shared with attendees the importance of striving for work-life integration because it allows you to gain focus and energy. ““People always say, ‘I don’t’ have time to take a break.’ Well, then when do you have time to get sick? Breaks now are better than break-downs later. Besides, breaks create break-throughs! That’s when the juice comes, that’s when the brain candy kicks in, when you’re off the grid.” 

Next up was Josh Davies, a published author and frequent presenter on developing foundational work behaviors in everyone from high school students to returning veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce. During his Keynote, Davies shared insights on why work ethic matters and how to successfully make it a clear and defined focus when hiring and training new employees. “Employers across the country are looking less for education and specific skills, and now say that the two characteristics they look for the most in new employees are work ethic and attitude,” said Davies. “In order to be effective in teaching work ethic, managers need to be specific about what behaviors they expect, and be prepared to model the same behaviors every day at work.

WWA Exhibit Hall packed with products and people in 2015

The 2015 WWA Trade Show featured 100,000-square-feet of sold-out exhibit space with more than 350 booths, an increase in the number of exhibitors from the last time WWA was in Palm Springs.

"The WWA show continues to deliver a unique show experience where quality time with potential and new clients is abundant,” said Richard A. Carroll, Jeff Ellis & Associates.
The exhibit hall floor proved to be the perfect place to bring together experts that offer the water leisure industry’s most innovative products and the people who put them into play on a daily basis.

“In the past 25 years I have had the privilege to attend many conventions and trade shows. I was very impressed to observe the business being conducted on the trade show floor and orders being taken,” said Norma R. Stewart, Cowabunga Bay Water Park. “I found the WWA Show to be extremely beneficial with an abundance of opportunities to learn.”

“The show for IAM provides a critical opportunity for us to connect with our current client base as well as provide exposure to others both domestically, as well as internationally, the many services IAM has to offer,” said Mike Friscia, Innovative Attraction Management, LLC. 

The following companies were awarded for their creative and impactful exhibits at the show:
  • Best One-Booth Category: Arcadia Louvered Roofs, Dahlonega, Ga., U.S.A.
  • Best Two-Booth Category:  Arch Chemicals / Lonza, Alpharetta, Ga., U.S.A.
  • Best Four-Booth Category: SplashTacular, Paola, Kan., U.S.A.
  • Best Eight-Booth Category: Aquakita, Escobedo, Mexico
  • Best of Show: WhiteWater West Industries Ltd., Richmond, British Columbia, Canada

WWA Unveils Two New Key Member Services

Continuing on its commitment to offer new and vital member benefit programs to move the industry forward in meaningful ways, the WWA announced a couple of new, key member benefit programs and services that will have broad-based appeal.

“We are incredibly excited to get members engaged with our new Waterparks.org website and our new sponsorship program,” said Root. “Our new site is especially important because it will help build even more opportunities for members to communicate both with the WWA and each other.”

WWA Launches New Waterparks.org – Honored by Advanced Solutions International with a 2015 Great Things Award for its design, functionality and integration, the newly launched Waterparks.org will provide members with easier access to popular programs such as Webinar Wednesday events and WWA digital publications, as well as valuable tools like an Events Calendar, How-To article and video archives and member community groups, where like-minded members can converse online 24 hours a day.

“This new industry site is the perfect compliment to the show site we launched in 2013,” said Ezra. “Not only is it more eye-appealing and modern, but it is fully integrated with our member database which will make it even easier for members to keep their team leaders more connected to the WWA community.”

WWA Advertising and Sponsorship Program - Following on the successful model of the WWA Insurance Program, the Association will launch the WWA Advertising & Sponsorship Program for 2016.

Five year’s ago, the Association’s members banded together to take control of their insurance costs and availability by combining their purchasing power and spreading their risk across an aggregated membership group.  By partnering with market leader Haas & Wilkerson Insurance, they have transformed the insurance landscape of the waterpark industry with increased coverage and insurance form enhancements while stabilizing premium costs for members in and outside of the program.

In 2016, the Association will launch the WWA Advertising & Sponsorship Program by following the same type of model that has generated so much success for our members in the insurance program.  By aggregating the consumer reach of member waterparks, the WWA will provide a turnkey program designed to increase ancillary revenue for park operators by leveraging their combined scale to increase their individual attractiveness to regional and national brands.

In order to ensure the success of this new member program, the WWA has partnered with H20 Media Solutions, a leading media and activation firm who’s partners have existing relationships with key national and regional brands, as well as experience in association program development and backgrounds in the waterpark and theme park industries.  The combined strength of the WWA and H20 Media Solutions will enable the Association’s members to generate sizable ancillary revenue that they would be unable to generate individually.

WWA Board Presents Industry Awards and the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees 

Recognition of industry leaders and pioneers by WWA’s Board of Directors is always a highlight of the WWA Show, with the ceremony being held during the Opening General Session on October 21, 2015 at the Renaissance Palm Springs. Each year the Board recognizes member contributions in a variety of areas significant to the industry’s success such as: dedication to guest and employee safety; excellence in leadership; innovation and creativity in designing new themes and attractions; and the development of standards that raise the bar for the industry overall.

“The WWA’s Board Awards program is our small attempt to celebrate the best achievements made by outstanding water leisure professionals either in the past year or over the lifetime of a storied career,” said Mark Moore, Chair of the WWA’s Board of Directors. 

WWA Hall of Fame:

The WWA inducted four individuals into the WWA Hall of Fame, which honors the water leisure industry’s most important and visionary pioneers and innovators. This year’s honorees were:
  • Rick Fuller, Water World / Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District

  • Chris Mesanko, Thundering Surf WaterPark
  • Kenn Ramage, Van Stone Conveyor
  • Andrew Wray, WhiteWater West Industries Ltd.

(Induction videos for each honoree are available for linking to at: http://www.youtube.com/user/WorldWaterparkAssn.)


Board of Directors Awards:

The WWA Board of Directors recognized the exceptional accomplishments of 27 recipients in 2015 including: 

  • Al Turner Memorial Commitment to Excellence Award: Glenn Davidson, Farah Leisure Parks Management LLC, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Chris Landgrave, Deep River Waterpark, Crown Point, Indiana, U.S.A.; Rachmat Sutiono, P.T. Funworld, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Executive Board Award: Jeb Boyd, Whale’s Tale Water Park, Lincoln, New Hampshire, U.S.A.; Caribbean Bay Water Park at Everland Resort (Operated by Samsung C&T Corporation), Yongin, South Korea; SomerSplash Waterpark for their Longest Day of Play Event, Somerset, Kentucky, U.S.A.; Nicole Van Winkle, Counsilman-Hunsaker, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
  • Kelly Ogle Memorial Safety Award: Kevin Rowland, Whirlin’ Waters, North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A.; Andreas Tanzer, ProSlide Technology Inc., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Water Safety Products Inc. for the development of the BigEasy Mask, Indian Harbour Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
  • Leading Edge Award: Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark and Architectural Design Consultants, Inc., Aquatic Development Group, Vortex Aquatic Structures International Inc., Weber Group, Inc. and WhiteWater West Industries Ltd. for their work on Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark; Kalahari Resorts & Conventions and Architectural Design Consultants, Inc., Neuman Group, ProSlide Technology Inc. and Weber Group, Inc. for their work on Kalahari Resorts & Conventions; Siam Park and ProSlide Technology Inc. for the “Singha;” Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle and WhiteWater West Industries Ltd. for their work on Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle; Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas and WhiteWater West Industries Ltd. for their work on launching Slideboarding.
The Association also celebrated the renaming of its Emerging Leaders Scholarship in honor of WWA Hall of Fame member Chris Stuart, who was known as a prolific mentor to hundreds of waterpark industry professionals, with a special video tribute featuring WWA members speaking on what Chris meant to the water leisure industry. 

“You could say the waterpark was Chris’ church and mentoring young kids was his mission,” said Joe Schmitz, Stand Rock Hospitality.

“Chris lives on in the leaders we have in the industry today, some spent years with him, some just hours, but each one has a story about how Chris influenced them, encouraged them or helped them to get where they are today,” said Christine Palma, Breakwater Beach. “He always had an encouraging word and a pep talk to pull us out of our funk and get us motivated to try again and get a better result.”

Now in its third year, the Chris Stuart Emerging Leaders Scholarship program was created to give individuals in the beginning of their water leisure careers the opportunity to attend the WWA show. This year’s recipient was Justine Green, a seasonal employee with Hurricane Alley Waterpark, Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.A. 

“The exceptional quality of scholarship applicants we received in 2015 for the Chris Stuart Emerging Leaders Scholarship program made the selection of one candidate nearly impossible,” said Rick Root, WWA President. “We have some outstanding young people working in our industry and it is our goal to give them every opportunity to grow into our future leaders.”

Other scholarship finalists were: Chelsea Loux, LEGOLAND California, Carlsbad, California, U.S.A.; Jessi O’Daniel, Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.; and Emily Polinski, Wet ‘N Wild Water World, Anthony, Texas, U.S.A.

Wave Review Awards:

Recipients of WWA’s popular Wave Review marketing competition were recognized during the Keynote Session on October 22, 2015. Winners’ work represented successful marketing campaigns from small public-sector facilities to large corporately owned waterparks. “Response to this year’s call for entries was one of the largest we have ever had,” said Ezra. “We are thrilled to be able recognize the work of so many parks that are using such inspiring and creative approaches to building relationships with waterpark customers.”

Multi-category winners were: Schlitterbahn Waterparks, New Braunfels, Texas, U.S.A.; Summit Family Aquatic Center, Summit, New Jersey, U.S.A., Castaway Cove Waterpark, Wichita Falls, Texas, U.S.A.; among others.

(The full list of Wave Review winners is available in a separate attachment.)

Bringing people together in memorable ways

“My biggest take away from the WWA Show was the inspiration that I received from the show attendees.  I love the feeling of a supportive community and I honestly feel like I am a part of a big, happy family that will push me to grow and succeed,” said Yomaris Estrella, CoCo Key Hotel & Water Resort

“We are thrilled to have celebrated our milestone 35th year of serving the water leisure industry with our members in Palm Springs,” said Root. “There’s nothing like being in an intimate location like Palm Springs where quality face-to-face conversations can take place at every level.”

Highlights of this year’s networking events included:
  • Women of Water Breakfast. With so many women leading the way in waterparks all over the world, WWA re-launched its Women of Water (WOW) networking event. This special event welcomed more than 70 women (and men) who were inspired by speakers Kristie Moses, CoCo Key Water Resort, Franceen Gonzales, WhiteWater West Industries and Colette Carlson, Speak Your Truth, Inc. Moses spoke on the importance of being a mentor to younger employees, while Gonzales encouraged all women leaders to “get in the game” and make every effort to keep reaching for new goals. Then, Carlson shared why women need to be better at highlighting their accomplishments in the workplace. “Never before has it been more important for women to express their success to get the recognition, rewards and results they deserve. Communicate who you are in a way that shows your value and attention to the bottom line when speaking to stakeholders,” said Carlson.
  • WWA’s Annual Golf Tournament. More than 75 water leisure professionals gathered for this annual event at Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort. The WWA group played the Resort course, a well-known Ted Robinson design that provides a desert links style golf course that offers beautiful mountain views, along with scenic waterscapes and undulated greens that are friendly, yet demanding. Top prize went to winning team: Johnny Blevins, Splash Kingdom Waterparks; Michael Holtzman, Profitable Food Facilities; Mickey Lewis, Splash Kingdom Waterparks; and Dean Woods, Houlihan’s Restaurants Inc.
  • WWA’s Annual Reunion Party. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the San Jacinto mountains, this signature networking event at the Renaissance Palm Springs’ pool brought close to 700 owners, operators, suppliers and developers face-to-face for some additional networking time following the first day of the trade show. 
  • Wet’n’Wild Palm Springs Party. Attendees were eager to go behind-the-scenes of one of California’s original waterparks. People enjoyed a delicious mix of food and drinks, and spending time catching up and sharing ideas with colleagues.

WWA Sponsors Provide Excellent Support 

“We received record support from our sponsors this year. Thanks to their support, we are able to provide attendees with many of the key touches they most appreciate like waterpark tours and buffet lunches,” said Moore. 

The 2015 WWA Sponsors included:
  • Platinum Sponsor – ProSlide Technology Inc.
  • Double Gold – WhiteWater West Industries Ltd.
  • Gold Sponsors – WWA Insurance by Haas & Wilkerson, Launch Logic, Polin Waterparks, Van Stone Conveyor and Water Technology Inc. / NeumanGroup / Neuman Aqua
  • Silver Sponsors – Allied Specialty Insurance, Aquatic Development Group, Convergence.net, Kimley-Horn & Associates, Launch Logic, Van Stone Conveyor and Water Safety Products
  • Bronze Sponsors – Accella Corp., American Resort Management, American Wave Machines, Aquakita, F.A.S.T. Corporation, Foothill Communications, Incord, The Lifeguard Store, Pentair Commercial Aquatics, The Producers Group, PTL – Featuring Seawag, SCP Distributors, Shade Creations by Waterloo, Shiftplanning, Vivo Aquatics and Water Odyssey by Fountain People
  • Cyber Café Sponsors – Forrec Limited, Shiftplanning and Water Odyssey by Fountain People (Double sponsor)
  • Phone Charging Station – Tiburon Lockers
  • Special Sponsors – Aquakita, Dippin’ Dots, IALDA and Life Floor
  • General Session – WWA Insurance by Haas & Wilkerson Insurance
  • WWA Lapel Pins provided by Zebec
  • Registration System sponsored by Gateway Ticketing Systems

Laissez les bons temps rouler—let the good times roll!

The Association announced they will take attendees back to New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. in 2016. “Few places have the history, flavor and energy you’ll find in New Orleans," said Root. “We are excited to be able to return to a venue that proved to be such a hit with attendees the first time around.” 

The WWA Show, October 11-14, 2016, will be headquartered at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, which is adjacent to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

About the convention

WWA’s Annual Symposium & Trade Show is the world’s largest gathering of water leisure professionals and development experts. It offers the most comprehensive waterpark education program available offering in-depth, targeted sessions and workshops for every specialty segment of the industry. It is the only show focused exclusively on the water leisure industry. 

The WWA is the world's premier water-leisure trade Association serving more than 1,000 park and supplier members representing 50 countries. 

For more information and additional convention photos, contact Aleatha Ezra, Director of Park Member Development, at +1-913-599-0300 or aezra@waterparks.org